Awign - A Great Platform for India's Gig Workforce

In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 35% of the total US workforce are gig workers, and the percentage will increase to 43% by 2020. India is also following a similar trend. As per ASSOCHAM reports, gig economy sector in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of 17% and is likely to be valued $455 billion by 2023. With the growing popularity of gig jobs among the youth, the number of gig workers is sure to be on a rise. Besides companies are also interested to hire gig workers owing to many advantages like low cost to the company and easy hiring process.

Bengaluru based startup, Awign is simplifying hiring of gig workers for the companies by taking care of everything form hiring and training the workers to supervising the work and getting the task accomplished.

Startuptalky interviewed Awign founders Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh and Praveen Sah to get more details about the startup and what it is doing to boost the gig economy sector in India

Awign - Company Highlights

Company Name Awign
Headquarter Bengaluru (India)
Founder Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh & Praveen Sah
Sector Gig Economy
Founded 2016
Parent Organization Awign Enterprises Pvt. Ltd
Website www.awign.com

About Awign
How Awign Works
Awign - Services
Awign - Founders & Team
The Idea Behind Starting Awign
Awign - Name, Meaning & Logo
Awign - Business Model
Awign - Funding & Investors
Awign - Marketing Strategies
Awign - Challenges
Awign - Advisors & Mentors
Awign - Awards
Awign - Growth & Future Plans
Awign - FAQs

About Awign

Awign was started with the mission of organizing & fulfilling enterprise work digitally with human aspirations & humanized efforts. Awign creates a bridge between companies & gig-workers by not only providing manpower to these enterprises but also taking the complete onus of finding the gig-workers, mapping them to the work, training them, managing them and getting quality outcomes for the enterprises. All enterprises have to do is give Awign their requirements, and the entire management is taken care of by the Awign team.

For the gig workers, Awign is not just a platform to find a job, but they also receive the required training and guidance to finish the work seamlessly, thus they not only earn, but get to learn as well.

"We are at a war against unemployment, underemployment and lack of skills." quotes the Awign founders

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How Awign Works

This is how Awign works -

  • Client Requirement: Client is onboarded and their requirements are captured on the platform (volume, quality, commercials, etc.)
  • Project configuration: Detailed execution workflows, parameters defining quality of work and workforce are fed in. This is captured on three different interfaces: app for the workforce, war room (Awign’s internal team) and client dashboard.
  • Publish: Listings of jobs, internships & gigs are published on the platform for gig workers to view & apply.
  • Skill Assessment: Each gig worker is assessed on required skills and trained as appropriate.
  • Task Allocation: The allocation engine ensures that every micro-task is assigned to an appropriate gig worker based on various parameters (proximity, availability and previous performance of the gig worker)
  • Fulfilment & Quality Control: Awign’s fulfilment team uses the war-room and ensures on-ground performance in real time.
  • Client Dashboard: Clients get full visibility of everything happening on the ground across multiple cities, on their screens. The dashboard also lays down all the insights generated from the ground enabling clients in decision making.

Awign - Services

Awign is a industry agnostic platform and provides manpower for almost every sector. However, the focus has been on FMCG, BFSI, ECommerce, Consumer Durable, Mobility, Assessment, Retail, Hospitality, Retail and Construction. Some of the services being provided by Awign are -

  • Verification Services: Awign helps clients verify their customers, partners, employees, and assets periodically. They by providing background verification, identity verification, geo-tagging and document collection. They work with Instaveritas, Authbridge, IDfy, BetterPlace, TataCapital, IndiaLends, etc in this regard. Awign is clocking a speed of over 1 lac verification a month across 450+ cities.
  • Audit: Awign does it by providing services such as mystery/non-mystery audits and surveys ranging across quality, revenue leakage, SOPs, customer experience, branding, market execution, etc. A few of the audit engagements include Revenue Leakage Audits for OYO, Stock and Visibility Audits for ITC Ltd., Competitive Benchmarking for Swiggy, etc. Till now Awign has audited 50k+ entities spanning across multiple use cases and industries.
  • New Business Development: This is an offering driven towards growth and market expansion for the clients. Awign does both demand acquisition as well as supply acquisition through the gigworkforce. They are helping teams at PharmEasy, Medlife, Amazon Pay, Khatabook, etc. to acquire demand and companies like Ultratech, Uber, etc. have partnered with Awign to acquire supply. The Business Development teams have been getting 25k+ new customers every month through Awign’s partnership
  • High Volume Calling: Awign can set-up a virtual call center to place telephonic calls to the client’s specific target audience to either pass vital information or collect certain data points. They’ve been helping teams to reach their audience at scale at Udaan, ZestMoney, Cred, etc. and have built capacities to place and handle 2 lac+ calls per day with a set-up time of less than 48 hours.
  • Digital gigs: Awign takes up high volume data/image/voice labelling, transcription and digitization assignments like content creation and executes this through a crowdsourced workforce with human augmented quality checks at scale. A few such engagements include - real time menu digitization for Swiggy and Zomato; training data creation for AI based bot for Policybazaar and Accenture. Capacity to process 10 million+ data points every month.
  • Last-Mile Delivery: These are the latest addition to Awign’s repertoire of service lines where Awign is leveraging the hyperlocal workforce, in-house tech platform and central team expertise to help clients to fulfill last-mile deliveries to their customers & end users. They are working with BigBasket, Licious, Supr Daily, etc.for these services.
  • Awign Covid-19 Compliance Platform (ACCP): Innovating amid the COVID-19 crisis when businesses are going operational, this mobile app-based platform helps thousands of people comply with the norms and protocols as per the government of India, to avoid further spread of coronavirus and maintain a safe work environment.

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Awign - Founders & Team

IIT alumni Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh and Praveen Sah are the founders of Awign.

Awign Founders, Annanya Sarthak (Center), Gurpreet Singh(right) & Praveen Sah(left)
Awign Founders, Annanya Sarthak (Center), Gurpreet Singh(right) & Praveen Sah(left)

Annanya Sarthak is presently the CEO of Awign, and leads fundraising, operations & finance divisions.

Awign Chief Revenue Officer Gurpreet Singh leads b2b enterprise sales division.

Praveen Sah is the Chief Technology Officer of Awign and leads the product & technology division .

Awign has a team of 150 employees, and it provides its employees a fast-paced challenging work environment where they can learn continuously and solve problem through collaboration. When it comes to hiring, people with an entrepreneurial mindset, and who those are passionate about learning and solving problems are preferred.

"The 150 Awignites are ardent believers of the fact that the next 500 million jobs in the country will rather come from the gig-economy as against the old, usual. However, technology plays a big role in driving this dream, and that precisely is what we are doing at Awign! " the Awign founders quote.

The Idea Behind Starting Awign

Awign founder and CEO Mr. Annaya Sarthak, ex-IIT & a mechanical engineer by qualification landed a job in a big MNC. Working there, he didn’t find the perfect fit with respect to his dreams or work. He continued appearing for close to 9 interviews only to be rejected. There was something missing - knowledge and learning!

Here started the second round of academic learning - many online courses in operations, finance & HR ensuring that there is a boost in his knowledge. He now moved into a high-paying job as management consultant in a reputed firm. This is where the practical learning began; rigorous work, understanding the clients & market knowledge led to a revelation. This revelation sparked the idea of Awign!

Sarthak understood a common problem statement of most companies - whether to outsource something or not! However, outsourcing didn't get them the best results. Companies don’t want to make risky upfront investment in permanent workforce! This was a large problem existing in the market.

Second part of the idea came when he was trying to build a Learning Management System for schools & colleges. His interactions with recent graduates and students pursuing college brought in the second revelations that this segment of people is looking out for opportunities to work, learn & earn. Here comes the idea of a bridge between what enterprises want to get done and what people in India can do or want to do. Towards the end of 2015, the concept of Awign was born. In a nutshell, the inspiration was the problem statements - with the enterprises and people.

Come early 2016 and he began ideating on building a team. First step here was to move to Bangalore from Delhi and meet Gurpreet Singh - the co-founder of Awign, ex- IIT and a computer science engineer by qualification. Their association goes back to IIT where they had a couple of not-so-successful stints together along with having a music band!

Gurpreet did land a very good job yet coming from a business background, he wanted to pursue his MBA and build something ground-up on his own, just like his father. Sitting on top of the GMAT score list, he had the opportunity to apply to the top 10 global business schools. Sarthak pitched the idea of starting a company together based on his idea and understanding of the market, client and the student. Gurpreet was convinced by the idea and found a calling in this!

There was a strong uncertainty but that’s where the second founder of Awign joins in - two of them together took a plunge of faith and risked it all.

They started working on the Proof of Concepts (POC), pitched this to a few companies and bagged the initial customers. The pitch was to give Awign a contract and pay only once the outcomes were delivered. Gurpreet and Sarthak together worked on everything right from the sales pitch to the clients, getting requirements, finding gig-workers, training, managing and getting the gig-workers working. This went flawless; the clients were happy, the gig-workers were happy but managing hundreds of gig-workers taught them that they need a technology platform to manage and scale it up!

Then joined the third member on board - Praveen Sah, the Chief Technology Officer of Awign Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., again an ex-IIT, ex-Flipkart, ex-Ola and a computer science engineer by qualification. Praveen held the experience of starting and managing his own startup for a year in Mumbai which unfortunately didn't go well for too long and he was with Ola in their tech team soon after.

Sarthak and Gurpreet pitched to Praveen using their success so far, the POC, happy clients & gig-workers and the dream! Being the sole earner in the family, it was a difficult step for Praveen yet, he too took the leap of faith and by mid-2016 the big three were already working together to live their dream and make it bigger.

It wasn't an easy journey. The money was flowing in from the founders' personal savings which was soon over. The hardship was to an extent that Sarthak had to figure out an accommodation without rent for two months, a PG room became the first office but as they say, the fruit of hard work is always sweet, Awign now has touched 450+ cities, completed more than 5 million tasks and offered livelihood opportunities to 5lakh+ people and this continues to grow!

Locations in which Awign offers services
Locations in which Awign offers services

Awign is a Sanskrit word, which means “Removal of obstacles” and the logo signifies the same.

Awign Logo
AwignLogo

Awign - Business Model

Awign’s business model is based on billing the enterprises, basis the outcomes on the ground, not on the manpower. Again it does not charge anything from the gig-workers on the platform. Thus Awign creates a win-win situation for both the enterprises (employers) and gig workers (Employees).

"We firmly believe that the jobseekers/workers shouldn’t pay for getting a job; instead the company must invest in them, give them the right tools to get trained & work on the ground and they get paid for it. End of the day, it should be about helping them earn a livelihood and learn - their skill upliftment must happen! " The Awign founders said.

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Awign - Funding & Investors

Towards the end of 2016, the founders started working on the angel round and rose close to INR 1cr. The funding led the founders to start building and developing the minimum viable product - the product journey had now begun full-fledged!

Here is Awgin's funding details at a glance.

Date Stage Amount Investors
November 2016 Angel Round INR 1Cr(Approx) Angel Investors
August 2017 Angel Round $140,000 Imanpreet Singh Arora, Sidharth Rozario, Saurabh Abichandani
November 2017 Seed Round INR 3.5 Cr Unitus ventures, Dhiraj Sood
January 2018 $783k Unitus Seed Fund, Other Angel Investors
December 2019 Series A $4 Million Work10M, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Eagle10, Unitus Ventures

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Awign - Marketing Strategies

Awign was started with the idea of working with a supply pool of college students - primarily a group that has some level of education, studying in colleges in any stream, degree, etc. and are looking for avenues of learning & earning. This group can lead to great networking and virality.

Thus the Awign team figured out a strategy - Campus Ambassadors in colleges. This helped Awign with tremendous organic growth since there wasn't much money to put in. The team spoke with placement in-charges and got the available tasks broadcasted on bulletin boards; a referral scheme also came into place and this resulted in a spike of students interested to take up tasks which helped them learn & earn that too without paying anything initially! This marketing channel works for Awign till date!

In the demand side, Awign reached out to enterprises to take up any large scale requirement at distributed locations and that required huge people engagement/involvement. With a plethora of use cases the Awign team identified the top focused verticals and industries and followed a very focused approach and reached out to specific titles/people in organizations who would require Awign’s services. Lately, a majority of customers come in through in-bound and referrals due to the high quality work developed by Awign.

Focus was also on hiring the right people for marketing. Nihal Chaudhary - Director of Supply - Brand & Product Strategy brought with him a rich experience of working with the youth, fresh out of college and even students. Due to his Edtech background with Avanti (an Edtech Company that prepares students for competitive exams) he built concrete channels of marketing and retention which changed the game of scaling for Awign.

Awign built a lot of processes in B2b sales with the ‘hunting and farming’ mechanism. With the help of a lot of advisors Gurpreet built a structure of ‘hunting & farming’ and this helped the startup cut-through thousands smoothly.


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Awign - Challenges

The initial idea was to select suitable workers for tasks and work fulfillment. But slowly team Awign realized that there was a challenge: to bring out quality work and standing true to the SLAs. To overcome this, they invested massively on the product to get the gig-workers work-ready. The technology helped reduce the training time from 8 days to less than 24 hours and make gig-workers work ready. Mudit Arora - Head of Operation, ex-IIT, ex-Schlumberger and ex-Grofers, led the fulfillment part of Awign and ensured quality outcomes.

Awign - Advisors & Mentors

Pankaj Banal (Founder- PeopleStrong) and Rohit Bhatiani (Ex-director - Deloitte) are the advisors on board.

Awign - Awards

Recognized as one of the Top 25 Startups for 2020 by Entrepreneur.com

Awign - Growth & Future Plans

Awign is operational in 450+ cities in India. Since 2018, Awign executed more than 5 million tasks and are the largest work fulfillment platform in the Indian gig-economy sector. The startup is operationally profitable and has grown 20X in the last two years. Some top clients and partners of Awign include Britannia, ITC, OYO, Swiggy, Zomato, BigBasket, Betterplace, etc.

With its trained pool of gig workers and its performance focused business model, Awign aims at becoming a $100 million company in terms of top line in the next four years. Through Awign, the founders envision to nurture the world of work & making it happier

"As of May 2020, India was standing at a whopping 29% unemployment rate with millions of people losing jobs due to the downspiralling economy or reverse migration of workers due to COVID-19. Even as the percentage of unemployment is getting better through June and July, underemployment still lingers on. Mint says that if the COVID-19 recovery of India stretches beyond October 2020, India will go into a possible loss of 20 million jobs; while 136 million non-agricultural jobs are at risk as per National Sample Survey (NSS). Speaking of underemployment or about daily wagers, even during good days, a daily wager earns INR 178/day which might interfere with the basic requirements of livelihood, says Trading Economics. Apart from the scarcity of jobs, people are still not job ready or come with a lack of skills for a particular job which adds on to the challenge of unemployment and underemployment in the country. This is the challenge that Awign aims at addressing" the founders said explaining the difference they intend to bring through Awign.

Awign - FAQs

Who founded Awign?

IIT alumni Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh and Praveen Sah are the founders of Awign.

What is the meaning of 'Awign'?

Awign is a Sanskrit word, which means “Removal of obstacles” . It is a Bengaluru based startup, that is simplifying hiring of gig workers for the companies by taking care of everything form hiring and training the workers to supervising the work and getting the task accomplished.

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About Chayanika Goswami

  • Assam
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